The grande finale of the jump season

Punchestown Festival,
Tuesday 28th April to Saturday 2nd May 2015.

The Punchestown Festival is the highlight of the Irish sporting and social calendar and is considered the grande finale of the jump season. With top class horses, trainers and jockeys from both sides of the Irish sea converging on the Kildare venue, the quality of racing is unrivalled. A total of 12 Grade 1 contests take place during the Festival, making Punchestown the home of Irish National Hunt Racing.

Punchestown’s history is a long one, the first race day meeting was held in 1824 with the first Festival meeting taking place 30 years later. Brush fences and hurdles were introduced in the 1960’s and after a massive £8.75m redevelopment in 1998 the Festival became a four day event the following year. Punchestown now also hosts two all weather arenas and a Hunter Trials Course.

Full race running order and any other course information can be found here: http://www.punchestown.com/race_running_order.asp

Punchestown-Festival-2015-logo

Advertisements

Scottish Grand National 18th April 2015

Saturday sees one of the sporting highlights of the Scottish racing calendar, the Scottish Grand National, held at Ayr Racecourse.

Attracting some of the finest chasers from the UK & Ireland, this blue riband event will host many recognisable names from the English Grand National held at Aintree the previous weekend. There are 30 runners in total, with Balthazar King, Gas Line Boy and Soll (amongst many others) all part of this years line up, competing over four miles and jumping 27 fences.

The Elk was the first Scottish Grand National winner, back in 1867, which indicates that the Scottish Grand National history is a long and illustrious one. The race was originally hosted by Bogside racecourse where it was run over a distance of 3 miles and 7 furlongs, before being moved to Ayr in 1966. The 1974 was an unforgettable race when it was won by the peerless, Red Rum, carrying top weight and just a few weeks after winning Grand National at Aintree. This incredible feat still remains a record.

Red Rum Scottish Grand National

Brian Fletcher takes Red Rum (No 1) to victory in the Scottish Grand National. Ayr, April 1974. Picture: TSPL.

 

 

Valet of the Kings

We received an interesting article this week in the Duralock offices, from jockeytalk360.com, on how Valets smooth the way for jockeys in the USA:

“… The first thing he does is ice down the different drinks (Sprite, Coke, iced tea, Gatorade, water) that his jockeys like to drink. A special sliding container is replenished with candy bars, chips, cookies, and assorted snacks…  the next task, is checking helmets and laying out helmet covers that match saddle cloths. Saddle girths and whips are checked for condition. Goggles by the dozens have to be cleaned. Depending on the distance of a race, jockeys will wear three to four sets of goggles. A trip to the laundry room is followed by laying out all the pants, socks, and underwear that have been washed and dried from the night before. Gilbert has 40 towels in his stockpile, and by the end of the night they will all be soiled. Each of his riders has two to three pairs of boots. Elbows flying, he has to have the boots shined and laid out before the first jockeys arrive in the room.”

Which got us wondering if they exist outside of the USA, and if so, what the differences would be between a a US and a UK valet? Well, it turns out they do indeed exist over here, with their own Flat and Jump Associations and a pretty similar working day to their US counterparts.

Mainly made up of men that used to be jockey’s themselves, they have an understanding of the needs and the pecking order of the jockeys in the Weighing Room before a race. The pegs where jockeys change are determined by seniority, Frankie Dettori held the No.1 peg on the Flat for many years, but it might well surprise you to hear that AP McCoy wasn’t the No.1 over jumps, that honour went to Jimmy McCarthy.

The Weighing Room can be a tense place before big events, and by the nature of the sport, tragedy through injury to it’s participants is as much a part of the ritual as is triumph. UK Jockeys’ valet Chris Maude reminisces:

“… I tied Peter Toole’s cap for him at Aintree on Grand National day then watched as he took that horrific fall that left him in a coma for 25 days. That was the worst day, but the best was when he came into the Weighing Room at Plumpton to see everyone…”

With racing at Aintree starting today and The Grand National on Saturday, spare a thought for the unsung heroes behind the scenes who are making sure everyone has the right clothes on and weighs out at the correct weight!

Duralock Performance Fencing outside The Old Weighing Room at Aintree

Duralock Performance Fencing outside The Old Weighing Room at Aintree

Test success

Health & Safety and the correct qualifications are really important in the manufacturing industry.

For two days this week we have had a forklift driving instructor in residence here at the Duralock Enstone office, renewing existing licences and helping some of the newer staff members to gain theirs. With an average of one container a week leaving here for worldwide deliveries, we need all the help we can get loading them.

We had a 100% success rate, with everyone that took part passing with flying colours!

Fork.indd

 

Duralock exhibits in Essen

Equitana, Germany 14-22nd March 2015

Messe Essen houses 850 exhibitors in 17 exhibition halls during the 9 days that Equitana is held. Dubbed ‘The Equestrian Sports World Fair’, it certainly lives up to its reputation.

With every equestrian need catered for, from feeding to breeding, don’t be surprised to see people passing by with brand new wheelbarrows loaded to the hilt with the latest products or whizzing past on scooters. There are live shows and galas throughout, with around 1000 horses taking part and many of them camping on the site. There is also an entire market street and even the odd brass band appearing randomly throughout the halls!

Duralock Performance Fencing has been an exhibitor here for many years and this year we can be found at Stand C32 in Hall 3. So why not pop by for a coffee and a chat with Jean-Philippe or Julie? We are located close to the main Eingang West entrance.

IMG_2019

Day 4 round up Cheltenham Festival 2015

Gold Cup Day!

Rain fell on the final day of The Festival changing the ground to soft/good to soft and most likely changing the outcome for many of the competitors.

Ruby Walsh took an early lead in the JCB Hurdle with Dicosimo by five or six lengths, but Peace And Co and Top Notch stepped up as they approached the last, with favourite Peace and Co taking the win at the very end.

The Vince O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle was taken by outsider Wicklow Brave, who came from nowhere at the end to romp home at 25/1. Noel Fehily took a fall on Roman Flight, but both horse and rider were ok.

Mortello Tower just managed to hold on to his lead in the Albert Bartlett, with the team at Dan Skelton Racing (a favourite of Duralock) coming in 5th with the hotly tipped Value At Risk.

The hugely anticipated Gold Cup did not disappoint. Coneygree was first out and managed to fend off some serious competition throughout. Ending in an exciting three way sprint and becoming the first novice to win The Gold Cup since 1974!

The Foxhunters, had a false start, an aborted second start and a messy standing start before they finally got underway. On The Fringe, ridden by female jockey Nina Carberry, opened up a massive lead before winning by a street from Following Dreams.

The Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle was no less dramatic, starting smoothly, Bulgarry took a crashing fall at the second flight and the race ended with Killutagh Vic pronounced winner in a photo finish with Noble Endeavour.

The final race of the festival and Tony McCoy’s last at Cheltenham was The Grand Annual Chase. After a well fought battle, hampered by a fall from Dresden, he handed the trophy to the winner to a rapturous applause from the crowd. Maybe not the fairytale ending most people had hoped for, but he can certainly look back on the week with pride.

Two men who definitely can, are Champion Trainer Willie Mullins, who trained a record eight winners and Champion Jockey Ruby Walsh who rode four winners over the four day festival.

Festival over, we can all relax a little bit over the weekend and catch up on who’s in and out of pocket… until the Grand National!

Tony McCoy with Tom Scudamore, who rode the winner of the A P McCoy Grand Annual Chase at Cheltenham

Day 3 round up Cheltenham Festival 2015

St Patrick’s Thursday.

Day three was another mixed bag for punters, in the first race the well backed favourite Vautour easily won the JLT Novices Chase by 15 lengths. Regal Encore and Tony McCoy were favourites in the Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle but were beaten into third; Unique De Cotte looked to be striding on to win before being beaten up the hill by third favourite Call The Cops.

The Ryannair Chase saw Uxizandre, one of the lesser fancied of Tony McCoy’s Cheltenham rides at 16-1, finally provide him with his first winner in his last Festival.

The World Hurdle was a one horse race taken by Cole Harden who led the entire way.

The Brown Advisory and Meribelle plate proved to be the most exciting of the day. With 20 runners and a false start, Kings Lad ploughed through the first fence causing Daryl Jacob to lose his reins and end up off course. Champion Court and Make A Track battled it out in front with Hollow Penny in third. Outsider, Darna stormed the win right at the end coming in at a massive 33-1!

In the final race of day three, The Kim Muir Challenge, Standing Ovation lead over the first fence, with the favourite Champagne James in last. Sixty Something fell when going for home and bought down three others, leaving The Package in front, a £10,000 horse who at 12 years old pulled clear to win at a canter!

McCoy McCoy-563578

 

Day 2 round up Cheltenham Festival 2015

Ladies Day.

With Tuesday being labelled as ‘favourites day’, Wednesday was a mixed bag. Windsor Park took the first race with the favourite Nichols Canyon in third. Don Poli ran an awesome race in the RSA Chase to finish first, appearing to idle the whole way up the straight and then pricking up his ears, dropping down a gear and storming to the finish. Aux Ptits Soins and Zabana pushed the favourite to third in The Coral Cup.

Dodging Bullets won the big race of the day, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, netting one brave punter £1/4million on a £50,000 bet at 5/1! The expected battle between Sire De Grugy and Sprinter Sacre never materialised as Sprinter Sacre was pulled up, trainer Nicky Henderson revealed he had been sent to be scoped by the vet and there has been no indication about retirement.

Rivage d’Or won the Cross Country, but the big story happened before the finish as Quantativeeasing and Toutancarmont crashed through the (Duralock) barriers and knocked down a photographer. This video shows how the racerail acts exactly as designed, separating without splintering or shattering and helping steer the horses to stay close to the course: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/racing/article-2990069/Cross-Country-carnage-Toutancarmont-Quantitativeeasing-crash-barriers-knock-photographer.html#v-4105254140001

Qualando won the Fred Winter at 25/1 with the favourite Moon Racer taking the Champion Bumper.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Wrynne, a milliner from Leitrim in West Ireland was crowned best dressed in a hat she designed and made herself.

Chelt 2015 XC 1 Chelt 2015 XC hats

 

Day 1 round up Cheltenham Festival 2015

The roar!

The excitement at the start of the festival that has been heralded the Olympics of horseracing, is captured beautifully here by former Grand National winning jockey Marcus Armytage, writing for Betfair:

“At 1.30pm in the natural amphitheatre below Cleeve Hill, a roar will ring out across the north-eastern corner of Cheltenham that signals the start of the 2015 National Hunt Festival; four days, 27 races, Britain versus Ireland, punter versus bookmaker, the retiring A P McCoy against Ruby Walsh …” 

It looked to be Walsh’s day with a win in the first race, the Sky Bet Supreme Novice Hurdle on Douvan (and a win for the punter that placed £20k on him!). Followed up by a win in the Arkle on Un De Sceaux and to the cries of ‘Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby’ Faugheen wins the Stan James Champion Hurdle. The bookies were panicking, Twitter was alive with speculation on the massive losses about to be made as the fourth favourite Annie Power looked all set to take the win in the Mares Hurdle, jumping well and tucked in on the nearside, second to last she took the lead and on the final hurdle… disaster! Today’s photos look as if she jumped the shadow and landed too early, either way Ruby and Annie were out of the race and it was a photo finish with Glens Melody taking first. Everyone (especially the bookies) breathed a sigh of relief as it was confirmed that all involved were well. Cause of Causes wins the Toby Balding and the last race of the day is won by Irish Cavalier.

An exhilarating start to what is truly the greatest show on turf!

Annie P